Saturday, June 19, 2010

The LATE JIMMY DEAN : Whoever Sau such Links?

It was nice to see Jimmy Dean (August 10, 1928 – June 13, 2010) in the news. Too bad he had to die to do it.

Most people know at least one of his three main accomplishments: the sausage business he ran for such a long time that an entire generation has no idea he was ever in show business, the TV show he did that is now remembered because it was the first to feature a Muppet, and last but not least, 1961's "Big Bad John," which spawned sequels and cover versions galore.

He came from humble beginnings and near poverty, a high-school dropout from Plainview, Texas. After service in the Air Force, he struggled through the early 50's with his group "The Texas Playboys," but ultimately started to make a living as a musician and TV personality. Then "Big Bad John" made him a superstar. After a few more hits, he was rewarded with his own national TV show. Well before Johnny Cash's series, or "Hee-Haw," Jimmy Dean was a crossover act able to amuse a wide variety of people. One of the show's most memorable features was Jimmy's visits with Rowlf the Dog…the first time a Muppet character was seen regularly on TV. You can find a few examples on YouTube, and they hold up pretty well.

Jimmy Dean was smart enough to know that his luck as a singer or an actor (he was in the James Bond film "Diamonds are Forever') would not last forever. In 1969 he formed his own food company, and starred in commercials for his Jimmy Dean brand of sausages. He made millions, and sold his interest in the company back in 1984. Jimmy and his wife lived on a 200 acre-estate in Richmond, and he loved to be aboard his boat on the James River. He lived the good life, and had a gentle passing. He was sitting down to dinner when he grew still in his chair. And that was it.

Reflecting the varied musical interests of Jimmy Dean, your dozen-song download includes not just "Big Bad John" and its sequels (including "Cajun Queen") but "Big Bruce," one of the many "Big Bad John" parodies. Also, another novelty item ("Shark in the Bathtub" sung in his normal C&W comic voice) and Jimmy's "PT 109" ballad (now saluting "Big John" Kennedy). You'll also hear some of Jimmy's favorite religious and inspirational pieces (including "Abide with Me" and "Touch of the Master's Hand"). You also get the flip-side of "Big Bad John," which told the world that this somber, deep-voiced man was a light-hearted C&W singer: "I Won't Go Huntin' With You Jake (but I'll Go Chasin' Women)." I mentioned to Mr. Dean how surprised I was when I heard it.

As the photo Jimmy autographed for me would indicate, Jimmy's songs and humor were the Illfolks favorites, not his pig food. But here's an interesting slant on Jimmy and his sausages and pig farming. There were the usual wisecracks in the "comments" section of the online version of the N.Y. Daily News in reporting his death, including: "…He made it to 81 eating all that PORK?" There was also this: " I was 19 burned in an electric accident I had third degree burns over 65 percent of my body from 115 thousand volts of electricity Jimmy dean's company developed pigskin that saved my life I am 57 now and I still thank God and Jimmy Dean."

Whoever sau such links to an overview of Jimmy Dean's music? You did, right here. Download right now:
Go whole hog with this JIMMY DEAN SAMPLER

Update November 2011: Rapidshare deletes files if they aren't uploaded often enough to suit them. A few individual songs have been re-upped individually via a better service:

"Little Bitty Big John" sequel by JIMMY DEAN
"Cajun Queen" sequel by JIMMY DEAN SAMPLER

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